Yesterday, I had students write a single or "brilliant insight" on a Post-It. Today, for our warm up, I had students respond to their peers' questions in writing. It was a quick warm up to get them into the class content, but I plan to share the answers to the burning questions with their writers...a chance to work in "authentic" reasons to write.
Last night, the students had to find two items to bring to school that represented something in the story, "Call of the Wild". The trick was that one item could be something literal (represented in the story), and one would be non-literal (representing an idea, theme, or concept in the story.)
The kids had some questions about what kind of things they should bring, so I gave this example: A chain is literal if a dog is chained up in a story. The chain, in that case, represents a chain. That's literal. However, a chain can be non-literal if it represents slavery or oppression in another story (no actual chain is present, but the chain stands for oppression.)
So, today, after the warmup, I had students discuss their items in groups of five or six. I then had them choose five things that were non-literal and prepare a chart and short presentation to share them with the class.
The kids enjoyed the assignment, but it was really interesting that some of the students had no trouble at all with the assignment and others really struggled. I had groups who presented five items, four of which were completely literal. When other students raised their hands and pointed that out, the presenters were really confused.
I kept the tenor of the class very light, reminding students frequently that we are just learning here. But this tells me that we have to move very slowly into symbolism so that no child is left behind :)